There have been almost as many leaks for the touchscreen BlackBerry 9500 'Thunder' as there were for the Bold - which is saying something - but this may just be the mother of them all...
UK reseller Expansys has today thrown the cat amongst the pigeons by making the 9500/Thunder (nothing more on that Storm rumour) officially available for pre-order on its site - even if no price or release date were mentioned. Interestingly however for those who would deem this nothing more than some cheap publicity stunt, Expansys does indeed have the first official snap of the 9500 to hit the web and it looks a darn sight tastier than those real world images.
So what do we learn? Not a great deal in truth, but the 9500 is indeed quad-band, there'll be MMS (sorry, cheap dig), HSDPA, WiFi, Bluetooth 2.0 (no mention of A2DP), multi-touch input and BlackBerry's famed email support. Strangely both the camera and GPS are left out entirely, but we'll not panic at this stage.
For the record the 9500 will also ship with a stereo headset (3.5mm?), data cable, mains charger, user guide and software CD and the version Expansys will sell is going to be unlocked so expect to shell out a pretty penny.
Hype aside, all touchscreen phones come down to one to one thing: interface. If RIM can succeed where everyone but Apple has failed so far then the iPhone might finally (fingers' crossed) have some decent competition...
Update: Expansys has now pulled the page. Oh dear oh dear.